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Top 10 Swedish Instagram accounts

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My favourite photo app Instagram continues to grow and reached 400 million active users per month last fall. Many Swedish brands, celebrities and skilled photographers have been able to build huge followings on Instagram.

The 20 largest Swedish accounts added approximately 5 percent more followers last month (between Dec 4, 2015 and Jan 4, 2016).

18 Instagram accounts now have at least a million followers

You now have to have more than 100,000 followers to be among the top 100 Instagram accounts in Sweden. At least 18 of them have more than a million followers, not bad for a country of less than 10 million people. But then again, the most successful users all have an international audience.

The Swedish brand with most followers is H&M – 11.8 million (global account, they have several local accounts too).

Among individuals, PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Swedish Youtuber Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg are in a league of their own. Excluding businesses, the top 10 accounts in Sweden are (data collected on Jan 4, 2016):

  1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 10.7 million
  2. Pewdiepie – 6,900,000
  3. Tattoos of Instagram – 3,200,000
  4. Avicii – 3 million
  5. Men with class – 2,700,000
  6. Anna Nyström – 2,100,000
  7. Elsa Hosk – 2 million
  8. Maher Zain – 1,800,000
  9. Rachel “Yoga Girl” Bråthén – 1,700,000
  10. Alesso – 1,600,000

Note: I am @kullin on Instagram

Posted in Business, Statistics.

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One in ten posts on my social networks are ads

LinkedIn sponsored postOver the last few years most major social networks have introduced some form of advertsing as a revenue source. Even Instagram has now started to insert sponsored posts in the feeds for Swedish users. As users transfer from desktop use to mobile use, it becomes more and more important to place ads or sponsored posts in the news feeds instead of in a sidebar on the desktop site.

The more ads that the networks can display, the more revenue they can make. However, if ads become too frequent, users will dislike it and eventually stop using the service. So balancing the number of ads is a delicate task. Too few and you aren’t making as much revenue as you could, too many and users will leave, also lowering your profit.

One in ten posts in my feeds were social ads
So the billion dollar question is, how much ads are users prepared to take? The answer, it seems, could be somewhere around 10%.

LinkedIn new mobile app
LinkedIn just released a major update to its mobile app, making it look a lot like Facebook. What first struck me was how many ads there were in the feed and that they appeared early. The second post in the feed was always sponsored. So I decided to study the ad frequency of the big four social networks.

I looked at the percentage of posts in each feed that was sponsored and found that approximately 10% of all posts were ads. Twitter had a slightly lower share of ads at about 8%. On LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, 10% of posts in the feed were ads.

Since I only looked at my own feeds we must not make general conclusions. To do that one would have to look at a much larger statistical sample. However, I find it interesting that all four social networks have about the same share of ads in my feeds and it will be a topic to follow in the coming months to see if the ten percent figure is accurate or not.

Take a look at your own feeds and see if you see the same pattern.

Note: Just to give you an idea of when ads appear in feeds, I looked at 100 posts on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter via their respective mobile (iOS) apps.

Worth noting is that ads stopped appearing on Instagram after 70 posts. Also, ads on LinkedIn appear on the exact same spots in the feed on mobile as on desktop even if I checked several days apart. LinkedIn ads also appear earlier, so after looking at 20 posts you are already exposed to 3 ads. Over 100 posts it still is at 10%.  So to study this topic in more detail you need to know how far back users normally scroll. I think most users don’t ever reach 100.

social ads

Posted in Statistics.

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The end of a podcasting era

Here in Sweden, podcasts are getting more and more popular each day. Some of the most popular ones may have a hundred thousand listeners per episode or more. I’m not at all a heavy user but I discovered podcasts already 10 years ago and the one I started to listen to was For Immediate Release, The Hobson and Holtz Report by PR practitioners Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz.

FIR-Banner-design-2010

This podcast has been a tremendous resource on topics related to PR, social media and technology and I have been a regular listener since day one, with the exception of the last six months when I have not been as frequent.

Since the start they have produced an impressive 824 episodes of the highest quality. But this is the end of a podcasting era since Neville Hobson, which I have had the pleasure of meeting in person, has decided to call it a day to focus on other projects.

Shel Holtz will continue to run the podcast in a slightly new format on this new site. I would like to thank them both for the incredible amount of work they have put into this podcast over the years and best of luck for the future.

I will continue to follow FIR and I do recommend that you give it a try. To subscribe, just visit the subscribe page here.

Posted in Blogging, PR.

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None of the 20 largest cities in the US control their names on Instagram

New York skyline

In the early 90’s it became possible to trademark buildings in the US so that the use of for example images of the Chrysler Building in New York would be protected. The owners of trademarked building could now stop unlawful commercial use of their buildings on everything from t-shirts to souvenirs. As trademark law evolved, more areas have been subject to trademark protection and for example the New York Port Authority has claimed ownership of images showing the Manhattan skyline. Weird as this may be, it shows the commercial value in owning and protecting a trademark for a famous landmark or place.

Social networks are exceptions

With that in mind, it is rather strange that social networks are exceptions to the rule that a trademark owner can claim the right to a name. Most social networks distribute account names on a first come first served basis. That is the reason some major brands like Mercedes-Benz own the domain name mercedes.com but the Facebook address www.facebook.com/mercedes belongs to an individual.

There is of course a democratic aspect of this approach since it means that everyone has the same chance to register a name and it’s not just about who has the deepest pockets. Maybe you remember how Facebook took away the vanity url “/harman” from Harman Bajwa and gave it to Harman International? A move later reversed by the social network.

The other side of the coin is of course that brands stand little chance of being the first to register on every new app or platform that may be the next Twitter. Even if you use external services to keep an eye on such registrations, the management of all this eventually will become expensive and time consuming. Individuals are almost always the first to enter new sites and while some may have a legitimate reason to register a name, many don’t. And once a name has been assigned, it is almost impossible to claim it unless you have a trademark registratation. Even if you do, there are no guarantees that you will get your name back.

Branding places in social media

An area where social network user name policies becomes almost completely unregulated territory is place branding. Countries and city names aren’t necessarily protected trademarks everywhere. I haven’t been able to find out if it is common to have a trademark registration for a city name for example. An effect of this is that a large portion of place names on Instagram have been snatched by individuals instead of for example tourist boards or other official tourist bodies.

In fact, none of the 20 largest cities in the US control their actual names on Instagram. Both @newyork and @newyorkcity belong to (unknown) individuals. The unofficial @newyorkcity and @sanfrancisco accounts have 1.2 million and 111,000 followers respectively which means that owning these accounts can be quite lucrative.

Four accounts are private and four others are completely inactive with 0 posted images. Half of the 20 accounts have posted 10 images or less. It might seem like a little waste that an account name like @losangeles only have 13 followers (after studying this account for two days it seems that the owner deletes and posts new images every day to keep the account active, three days ago it had 10 images, today it has 3).

Instagram names of the 20 largest cities in the US (number of followers)

1. https://instagram.com/newyorkcity – Unofficial (1.2m)
2. https://instagram.com/losangeles – Unofficial (5)
3. https://instagram.com/chicago – Unofficial (12,900)
4. https://instagram.com/houston – Unofficial (1,132)
5. https://instagram.com/philadelphia – Private (827)
6. https://instagram.com/phoenix – Unofficial (523)
7. https://instagram.com/sanantonio – Unofficial (49)
8. https://instagram.com/sandiego – Unofficial (3,656)
9. https://instagram.com/dallas – Private (326)
10. https://instagram.com/sanjose – Unofficial/Inactive (57)
11. https://instagram.com/austin – Unofficial/Inactive (8,806)
12. https://instagram.com/jacksonville – Unofficial/Inactive (1,595)
13. https://instagram.com/sanfrancisco – Unofficial (111,000)
14. https://instagram.com/indianapolis – Unofficial/Inactive (43)
15. https://instagram.com/columbus – Unofficial (129)
16. https://instagram.com/fortworth – Unofficial (303)
17. https://instagram.com/charlotte – Private (133)
18. https://instagram.com/detroit – Private (2,602)
19. https://instagram.com/elpaso – Unofficial (9)
20. https://instagram.com/seattle – Unofficial (2,690)

What to do then? I don’t have definitive answers but I do think there needs to be a debate about this. Account names in social media is real estate, it is part of an infrastructure and a good handle can be of great value much in the same way as a good street address.

  • There has to be a balance between the democratic principle that everyone has the same chance to register and the protection of certain rights holders. These are the news ways in which people, brands and organizations communicate. If it is easy to find the right account of a city, country or a brand it benefits all users.
  • It should not be possible to register a valuable name and not use it. Inactive accounts should get a notice of cancellation after 12 months of inactivity, with the chance to activate. If not, the account should be terminated. And it should also be possible to apply for inactive names even without a trademark.
  • Social networks need to prevent obvious cases of cybersquatting. For a city like Charlotte, it might not be a surprise that there are others that want to claim the same handle, but in many cases people register these names hoping to benefit in some way. Networks need to work against that.

Posted in Marketing.

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How to find your most engaging tweets

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You can learn a lot from looking at statistics and that’s why it may be a good idea to take a look at your Twitter Analytics page now and then. I looked at my stats from September 2014 to May 2015 and learned a few things like:

  • Average engagement rate is decreasing
  • I have been tweeting a lot less in the last five months compared to last fall
  • I get a lot less link clicks now than in 2014
  • The number of monthly retweets vary a lot from month to month
  • Although I tweet less and engagement rate is decreasing, the average daily reach is actually increasing

I can now use this knowledge to improve my Twitter presence by trying to increase the number of tweets, improve the content so that it engages more people, include more links to increase link clicks for example. That is, if you think these are important numbers. The reason daily reach continues to increase is probably an effect of a continuous increase in followers.

The tweets with highest reach per month
Other interesting things that you can find in Twitter Analytics are for example the tweets with highest reach for the last few months. Some of my top tweets are in Swedish which is not surprising since about 80% of my followers are from Sweden.

May 2015: Instagram photo
Reach 12,100

April 2015: News article
Reach 1,500

March 2015: Blog post
Reach 14,200

Feb 2015: Blog post
Reach 2,800

Jan 2015: News article
Reach 4,400

Dec 2014: News article
Reach 19,100

Nov 2014: Blog post
Reach 18,300

Conclusions
There are a few conclusions to be made from looking at these tweets.

  • Inspiring images help your tweets get noticed and shared, but you may also reach out without images
  • Getting retweeted by an influencer increases reach a lot
  • Twitter cards for your blog posts or for news articles may increase engagement
  • If the link you are sharing doesn’t use Twitter cards, it helps to add an image manually
  • Hashtags on trending topics also help in getting reach
  • Blog posts and news articles create a lot of engagement

Now take a look at your Twitter Analytics, you may learn a few things that could help you reach out to more people on Twitter.

Posted in Blogging, Statistics, Twitter.

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Using social media influencers as brand ambassadors

Christine Donaldson

At today’s Rethink conference in Stockholm, Christine Donaldson talked about her experience as an Oakley Women Brand Ambassador. Christine who is a musician and a skier uses social media to create a unique online persona in order to garner the attention of an online audience. She started using Youtube for her music and Instagram to show her passion for skiing. When she began to establish herself as a social influencer, brands began to approach her with suggestions of partnerships. Today she is an ambassador not only for Oakley Women but also for other brands.

For someone who is interested in building a personal brand her advice is to find a personal voice and make your content distinguishable from others.

Today, there are no or few passive audiences. Customers rely on peers and create content on their own. By partnering with social influencers, brands could reach customers in ways that hopefully increases trust in the brand. Or in Christine’s words:

“Use the tool of human experience to get customer attention.”

Ideally, a brand ambassadorship should:

  • Strenghten relations with customers
  • Influence people to buy your product

From her experience as a brand ambassador, Christine gave the following advice in regards to ambassador programs.

Steps in building a brand ambassador program

Find the team – how to find your brand ambassadors

  • Hold a contest (have applicants create content)
  • Use a hashtag (see who is submitting the best content, that is of value to your brand)
  • Invite relevant social influencers (if you already know who is influential, invite them to participate)
  • Create a relationship (approach them with interest and offer)
  • Provide a contract (make it official, sort out the terms that also allows you to terminate the relationship)
  • Promote interaction and support between ambassadors

Beware of robots

  • Never use robots to attract an audience (stay clear of influencers who are using non-ethical ways of building a following)

Provide value and build spirit

  • Hold a retreat
  • Offer fair product trade or value
  • Share ambassadors profiles on your web site
  • Use exposure as an incentive for quality content

Activate with ambassadors

  • Utilize ambassadors in owned advertising assets (video/photo shoots)
  • Feature as models in campaigns
  • Create community events for ambassadors to attend or manage (so that customers can meet brand ambassadors)
  • Ticketed events where ambassadors attend (for example interested customers can pay to learn skills from ambassadors, like skiing)

Set expectations

  • Give social media training and training on brand voice and values
  • Share campaign launch information so that ambassadors remain informed
  • Enforce a  certain number of posts and collect data monthly

When brands start to engage with social influencers they can follow the ladder of social engagement, a model described by Tara Hunt. Read more about that process here.

ladder_of_social_engagement

Posted in Business, Marketing.

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